Friday, 30 August 2013

Author interview: Kathryn Player, author of Moody Not Broody

Last week I reviewed this very funny novel by Kathryn Player. It struck a particular chord with me being set in a school and the fact that the author is a teacher herself. I really wanted to find out more about her and also whether there is a sequel on the way or not. She was kind enough to agree to be interviewed and here is the result of that-enjoy!

1) First question-bit of a cliche-how did you get into writing?
Like many people, I always wondered whether I could ever write a book and for many years I had no idea what to write.  Then, once I was married, the interrogation about when was I going to have children started and then I had something I could feel passionate about: women feeling the pressure to have children became the premise of my book.

2) Do you write full time & if so have you always done so?
 Before my twin daughters were born, I used to get up at 5.30 in the morning and write for an hour before going into work.  This was the writing routine I had whilst I was writing 'Moody not Broody'.  Now, after promoting and taking part in twitter chats, I write when the girls are in bed.  I never have that flash of inspiration; sometimes I feel I bash out words on the laptop and then some time afterwards I shuffle it all and then cut and cut until all the flabby bits are out.

3) Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer?
 I love writing comedy.  I love reading comedy.  I guess my writing has an 'easy read' quite chatty style.  A lot of friends have said that when they read 'Moody not Broody' they can hear my voice.

4)  How do you develop your characters are you write? Are any of them based on real people?
 I have a general profile of each character before I start to write, but often they surprise me as I progress through a book.  The characters in 'Moody not Broody' are entirely fictional apart from Emma who is a great deal like me in many ways.  However, I do drive better than Emma!  ;-)

5) what was the inspiration being Moody Not Broody?
When people kept asking me 'when are you going to have children?' I wanted to ridicule the idea that just because a woman is married, she MUST want children.  Most women want to further their career or just have fun, and having children can be the furthest thing from their minds.

6) what is your writing process? Do you map it out? Write a bit at a time?
When I have an idea for a book I write out the synopsis and then look at it and change it several times.  Then I start to write.  I used to map out a detailed plan but I don't do that anymore because the characters would always lead me in different directions. 

7) what kind of research did you do before/during writing Moody Not Broody? Was it hard making your school setting true to life?
Because I was working as a teacher whilst writing 'Moody not Broody' I had all my research in front of me, day in and day out.  They do say 'write what you know' and at that time I was a Special Educational needs teacher trying to find my way around engaging difficult children.

8) do you have any plans to develop your novel further, write sequels or turn it into a series?
I'm currently thinking about the plot of the sequel to 'Moody not Broody' which has been great fun, already.  I didn't want to write a sequel before I knew what people thought of 'Moody not Broody'.  Thankfully, people have really related to Emma and so I think it would definitely be worth my while writing a sequel.

9) how much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get?
I look at every review, carefully, because if people have taken the time to write a review they deserve my time in reading it.  Even if it's a negative one, I think it's important to read through them all in order to develop as a writer.

10) are your friends and family supportive of your writing?
My friends and family are extremely supportive of my writing.  My husband, in particular, has been an absolute legend: he designed my front cover and my Facebook page, and every time I write something new he always reads through it and tells me what he thinks.

11) which other authors inspire you or are there any in particular you enjoy reading?
 Indie authors like Amanda Egan inspire me because she works relentlessly for her success and is really supportive towards other writers.  Nick Hornby is a favourite author and 'Life of a Slummy Mummy', by Fiona Neill, is so funny and was the book that inspired me to write a humourous novel.

12)  Finally-what are you working on right now?
Yesterday, I found a sitcom on my computer file that I was writing two years ago which, even now, I believe has potential.  Therefore, I plan to edit the script and turn it into a series of 6 short stories about a group of women who work in a charity shop.  Each short story will be about the same group of characters who all have their own story which interweaves with those of the other characters.  It's called 'Second Hand'.  After that, I shall write the sequel to 'Moody not Broody'.

Thanks so much to Kathryn for this interview. You can see my review of Moody Not Broody here and click here to buy yourself a copy of her fabulously funny novel! 

Remember you can follow Kathryn on twitter ( @funnyiswrite ) as well as her altar ego Emma from Moody Not Broody @EmmaFictional 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Review! Rolling Dice by Beth Reekles

They say that the higher you climb, the harder you fall - and Madison Clarke will do anything to keep her new life from crumbling to pieces. Moving from a small town in Maine to Florida, Madison grasps the opportunity to reinvent herself, to forget about those days of being a lonely, loser outcast, and jumps at the chance when the popular kids decide to take her under their wing. A hot boyfriend, parties, friends... If only there wasn't the slight problem by the name of Dwight, a cute, funny and totally nerdy guy in Madison's physics class who she can't help but enjoy spending time with. Running from her past and stumbling through the present, who knows what lies ahead in this new life in Florida?

Review: what a fun contemporary romance! I loved the first novel by this young author and was very much looking forward to this new offering. I was not disappointed let me tell you! Just like the Kissing Booth Beth's first novel(click here for review), I cannot believe that this wasn't written by an American author, the voice of the American teens is so prevalent. I also can't believe that this was written by such a young author-the characters are so well developed, the plot thought out thoroughly and there is a strong moral message which is reflected in the blurb of the book above.

I felt like I was watching a film at points during the book, that's just how engaging it was. It could have been a wholesome teen flick set in a US high school with the popular crowd, the jocks and the nerds. The character of Madison was lovely, a typical shy teenage girl who over thinks everything, we are lucky enough to hear what those inner thoughts are and see how they affect her decisions in everyday life. I felt slightly protective over Madison and was willing her to make the right choices from beginning to end of this novel.

There were a host of supporting characters who all had great parts and were pivotal to the plot of the story. I liked the wholesome family environment that Madison had, and felt that these characters too were very well written. Of course there are possible love interests for Madison, and I have no doubt that readers will, as I did, have a preference when it comes down to Dwight versus Bryce. These two guys were also both well written and were really polar opposites in Madison's world.

The storyline was your typical teen plot of new girl coming to a new school, choosing what crowd to be in and had an element of the ugly duckling about it. I was worried it was all going to end in tears, but I am pleased to say, this definitely had the ending that I wanted, I felt entirely satisfied with the last few pages of this novel and needless to say, I am desperate for there to be a sequel-please? I am sure fans of this author, or indeed, new readers will enjoy this book as much as i did. It is the perfect read for the start of the new term-I devoured it in 24 hours, I'm sure it will have the same effect on many others out there-a sure fire hit!

To get your copy, simply click the picture!

Don't forget you can follow this author on twitter too!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Review! The First Affair by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Jamie McAlister has resigned herself to the fact that in this job market, her painfully expensive degree might only get her a position at Starbucks, when she suddenly lands a prestigious internship at the White House. Although she doesn’t hit it off with the other interns—lockjaws who come from so much money that ten weeks without a paycheck doesn’t faze them—she is eager to work hard and make the best of the opportunity while it lasts.

An unexpected encounter late one evening with the charismatic President Gregory Rutland seems like just a fleeting flirtation, but when he orchestrates clandestine meetings and late-night phone calls, their relationship quickly escalates. Jamie knows what she is doing is wrong: he’s married, he has kids, he’s the President. Yet each time she tries to extricate herself, Greg pulls her back in.

With the conflicted desires of the most powerful man in the world driving her to her breaking point, Jamie can’t help but divulge intimate details to those closest to her. But she must have confided in the wrong person, because she soon finds herself, and everyone she cares about, facing calculated public destruction at the hands of Greg’s political enemies, and—perhaps no matter how much he cares about her—at the hands of Greg himself.

Review: I was really looking forward to reading this book. I love this combination of authors and have enjoyed so many of their other offerings, however, I have to say I was a little disappointed in their latest novel. I really enjoyed the very beginning of the book and the drama increased considerably towards the end-which was excellent. For the most past though, I found this novel hard to follow.

There were a lot of different people involved throughout Jamie's work and personal life and I felt that it was never fully explained exactly who these people were. There were shades of excellent characters but they just weren't developed enough for my liking....

I loved the concept of Jamie having a relationship with the president, and there were some excellent scenes between them that got me seriously hot under the collar. Unfortunately this part didn't last long enough. Jamie ends up in serious hot water, which as I have already stated, resulted in some brilliant dramatic scenes but the relationship between these two events wasn't exactly seamless or well transitioned.

I really enjoyed the storyline involving Jamie's family. There are too many novels which portray every family as a happy family. I loved the fact that Jamie's relationship with her sister was strained, that she left her family early at thanksgiving because she couldn't stand them any longer. Her father almost deserves his own storyline-I'd really like to find out a bit more about his background!

All in all I'm glad I read this book because I'm a fan of these authors, however, I felt it was a departure from their usual style of writing and so this novel wasn't for me. I have no doubt that other people will enjoy their latest offering, and it certainly won't discourage me from reading any other novel by these great writers!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over there at The Broke and the Bookish. I'd love to share my lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Sometimes the best friend can stick in your he'd long after you finish a book, sometimes a lovely let or a cute kid so this week I've had to think about those secondary characters and which ones have remained in my mind post-book. So here goes...

1. Fi from Working it Out and The Bow Wow Club by Nicola May. I loved this feisty female and her drunken antics, definitely memorable.

2. Suze from The Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella. I loved this friend and the way she understood Becky. I loved the secondary love story that went on with her too. 

3. Marnie from Fairytale of New York by Miranda Dickinson. She's so lovely and optimistic. I'd like to know what's going on with her! 

4. The grandmother from the Valentine books by Adriana Trigiani.

5. Smith from Ralph's Party by Lisa Jewell. When I read this he really reminded me of a friend from school and I think that stayed true in the sequel-very memorable!

6. Kelsey from Losing it by Cora Carmack. So excited that there is going to be a book all about her coming out soon. I wanted to find out what happened to her...

7. Ticket from By My Side by Alice Peterson. I know he's a major character in the book but he'd definitely be nominated for a supporting character Oscar, plus he's gorgeous! And who says a dog isn't an actual character? If you haven't read this novel you need to discover Ticket now!

8. The animals from Picturs if Lilly by Paige Toon. All those fabulous creatures definitely provide more in this wonderful story! 

9. Emily from Devil Wears Prada and Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. A fabulous character and superbly played in the films!

10. Wilbur from Geek Girl by Holly Smale. Such a funny guy with the most amazing mannerisms! Again if you haven't disocovered this character already, do it now!

So there are my top ten, if you think there are any I've missed, let me know, I'd love to hear your lists...


Guest Post by Lockwood & Co. Author Johnathan Stroud

The fabulous new novel from Jonathan Stroud is released this Thursday. I was lucky enough to be introduced to it back in March and was very excited about it because it is all about ghost hunting. With a fabulous title The Screaming Staircase,  this is the first in. Series of ghost busting novels from this lovely author called Lockwood and Co.

I am lucky enough to have a guest post written by Jonathan  here in the blog, in celebration of the release of his novels telling us about his favourite ghosts. I would like to thank Jonathan and his publishers for this, and without further ado, I'll hand you over to him...

Jonathan StroudMy three favourite ghosts
I can’t say I’ve ever met a real ghost in the ectoplasmic flesh, but I’ve been entertained and scared by a great many fictitious ones over the years. So what are my favourites? It’s a surprisingly tricky question. Many ghosts are fab when taken as part of a skilfully told story or movie, but actually aren’t big on individual personality. But a few, here and there, break free of their confines and become more solid than the rest. Here are three that deserve to be celebrated for more than the ability to rattle a few chains.
GlamGrettir’s Saga (14th Century)
A morose Icelandic shepherd who, once dead, turns into the toughest, most bad-ass ghost in Viking literature, which must be saying something. Glam gets a job at a remote farm in Northern Iceland, and causes trouble even when living, with his surly attitude, godless behaviour and terrible haircut. Then he’s killed by a monster up-valley, and gets worse. Despite being buried under a mound of stones, he’s back the following night, blue-skinned, swollen to a vast size, and possessed of terrible undead strength. He slaughters livestock, scares the women by staring in at windows, and bangs his heels on the roof crest till the rafters crack. The haunted farm faces ruin – until the hero Grettir the Strong comes calling. He lies in wait for the ghost: cue a monumental scrap, reminiscent of, but even better than, Beowulf’s battle with Grendel(and James Bond’s scrap with Red Grant on the train at the end of From Russia with Love – another hand-to-hand classic). It’s so cinematic, it’s untrue, and this was written 600 years ago. Grettir wins, but even thenGlam’s not done, because he curses the hero as his final act, a curse which eventually takes Grettir to his death. In short, Glam makes most ghosts seem wispy, wimpy and frankly rather effete.

Jack GoodmanAn American Werewolf in London(1981)
What adolescent boy could ever forget their first watch of John Landis’s excellent horror-comedy? And it’s not just down to Rick Baker’s special effects, or the charms of Jenny Agutter’s perky nurse. For me, one of the highlights was a secondary character, Griffin Dunne’s Jack Goodman, who’s savaged to death by a werewolf at the start, and spends the rest of the movie reappearing unexpectedly to warn his friend David of his own impending doom. Jack is badly chewed, and slowly decaying. His step-by-step disintegration is lovingly depicted each time he pops up. And it’s the way this contrasts with his character – wearily sardonic, and deeply cheesed off by his friend’s inability to recognise the truth – that makes him so brilliant. He both undercuts and underscores the horror of the story. The mix of spooky gore, humorand great characterisation pre-empts by 15 years the winning mix perfected by Joss Whedon in Buffy.

The Linen Ghost‘Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad’ (1904)
If Glam’s the best revenant, and Jack Goodman’s the great ghost for our hip, post-modern age, the ghost in M R James’s finest tale is the classic terrifying spectre of the golden age of spooky stories. Summoned inadvertently by a holidaying scholar, who blows into a mysterious bone pipe, this is a spirit that can’t take material form itself: it needs to inhabit something. Fortunately there is a spare bed in the scholar’s bedroom, and it’s these bedclothes that the ghost employs in its attempt to frighten its victim to death. James’s description of how the thing moves (stooping, darting, blindly feeling ‘with its muffled arms in a groping and random fashion’), and the final revelation of its ‘face of crumpled linen’, is dark genius. An ordinary bed – the place where we should feel safest – becomes a thing of terror: it’s this fearful reversal of the normal that lies at the heart of all the best supernatural fiction.

You can pre-order your copy of Lockwood by clicking here!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Review! Moody not Broody by Kathryn Player

Emma is a newly-wed looking forward to some blissful years with her new husband, Mike, but everyone else expects her to have children. Emma is a teacher and so, in everyone's mind, she MUST want children.

However, Emma has never wanted children and has to convince her husband, her family and her friends that she's not cut out for motherhood. 

Instead, Emma wishes to pursue her teaching career and help children with Special Educational Needspo, but her plans are thwarted and she has to make a decision which will affect her and her husband, Mike, forever.

Review: fabulously funny fiction! I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book for review, and I was really looking forward to reading it. Sometimes when you're really looking forward to reading something, it can be a let down, but this definitely was not. The first thing I really liked about this book was that it was set in a school. Immediately it conjured up vivid pictures in my head of my secondary school combined with channel 4's Teachers combined with the staff room in my own school, an interesting combination. Other books feature teachers and feature discussions they have in or around school but so many of the discussions in this book were in the school and covered aspects such a teaching children not as part of a whole class (exactly what I do) and also the problems of promotion when you have an issue with someone else on the staff. I thought it was really well written and could find no faults with that aspect of the book.

As well as the familiar setting I also felt like I knew the characters in the book, as well as taking on some of the personas from that channel four series, they also seemed to fit some of the personalities we all see in schools, whether we work in a school or just from our own experiences of school. I really liked Emma and found that she was a very realistic character. I have friends who, like her, are sometimes judged for their decision not to have children, or who have a desire to wait and I thought that other people's reactions to her decisions were equally realistic. I felt sorry for her in some of the discussions she had with people about her choices, and worried for her relationships with the lovely mike, who sounded just scummy, at some points in the book.

The rest of the characters in the book, bring in the real comedy aspect, which had me laughing out loud at points. They all have their quirks and play really strong supporting characters. I love the fact that Emma can't park, that Mike's mum gets a love life, that Emma's kids back her up no matter what, and that her boss always catches her doing something she shouldn't! 

The ending of this book definitely leaves you wanting more, I defy anyone to read this and NOT be looking for more pages to find out what is going to happen, I really hope there is a sequel. The only really criticism I have for this book is just that, that there is not more of it. There could have easily been another 50 pages of more fun and frivolity and a definitely need to know what is going to happen next in the world of Emma and Mike, the teacher part of me also hopes that the kids in her class get on ok too, but that's another issue. This is a really fun read and definitely worth downloading. If there is any news of a sequel I will share it on the blog, so keep your eyes peeled!

I also hope to have an interview with this lovely author for you very soon!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Author Interview! Tracy Bloom

Now I really loved reading, No-one Ever Has Sex on a Tuesday, indeed my review of review of the novel on the blog confirms this. I was very excited to find out that this wonderful author had a new novel coming out, Single Woman Seeks Revenge. I am very much looking forward to sitting down with this one, but in the meantime I was lucky enough to have this author answer my questions. And so, without further ado, I give you Tracy Bloom...

First question-bit of a cliche-how did you get into writing?
I started writing when my cruel, heartless husband moved us to America forcing me to leave a dream job shopping for rollercoasters for the UK's leading theme parks. I took an evening class and wrote mostly during my son's afternoon naps. It took about a year to write my romantic comedy, NO-ONE EVER HAS SEX ON A TUESDAY, and I now feel very proud to be able to say I am a published author. So I have a new dream job me and my husband are on speaking terms again!

Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this?
No. I have two small children so I fit it around them. It's a great job for a working mum as it means I'm around for when they need me and I can be flexible as I'm not going out to work. You can be too flexible sometimes however so you do have to have a lot of discipline.

Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer?
I write romantic comedies. Whenever I write the humour seems to flow although I do like to extract the tears as well. I also tend to write from the male and female point-of-view and am always delighted to hear from male readers who have enjoyed my books. Hence I don't use the term chick-lit as I think it's limiting.

How do you develop your characters as you write, are any of them based on real people?
They tend to be an a amalgamation of lots of different people. I have a very good list of questions to ask yourself about your characters which I got from a screenwriting class. If you answer the questions you discover things you didn't realise about your characters and it can really help develop the plot.

What was the inspiration behind your first novel?
We attended antenatal classes (classes you take before you give birth so you know what to expect) and I was struck by the drama and comedy potential in such a group of people. Everyone is from very different backgrounds and have never met and yet discuss one of the most important and intimate experience of their lives. I also thought that sitting in such a class with someone you are uncomfortable with would be very awkward and imagine if they were an ex-boyfriend and could be the father of your child! All that thinking led to me debut novel.

What is your writing process-do you map it out first? Write a bit at a time?
I like to be able to sum up the core of my book first in a couple of sentences. Then I brainstorm plot idea's onto prompt cards before laying them out and playing around with the order. When it's gaining shape I draw a flow chart on one piece of paper. This is then the plan I follow when I start writing.

How much of you is reflected in your novels?
I am probably not the right person to ask! I suspect quite a lot. I do draw on experiences, emotions and observations. I guess my sense of humour is very much reflected in my writing.
What kind of research did you do before/during writing Your novels?
I love doing research so I tend to try and avoid it! The internet is an amazing thing and I can soon lose hours trying to find the exact right song the character would be thinking of for example. I do consult my male relatives and friends when I'm writing from the male point of view in particular on phrases and specific words they might use to describe something.

Do you have any plans to develop either novel further, write sequels, turn it into a series?
I have already started planning the sequel to my debut novel. NO-ONE EVER HAS SEX AFTER A BABY will look at what chaos having a baby will bring to Katy and Ben's relationship as well as their closest friends Daniel and Braindead. I've had such great feedback on this book so I'm very keen to see what happens next! Daniel and Braindead in particular seem to have really struck a chord so looking forward to delving in to their lives a bit more. 

How much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get?
 I always read them because I think if someone has taken the time to review the least you can do is read it. I love hearing that my books have made people laugh out loud. That is the biggest compliment ever. Sure there are bad reviews but you have to expect that. No writer can write a book to please everyone. 

Are friends and family supportive of your writing?
Extremely. My husband has always believed in me and that is an enormous re-asurance especially when you have the inevitable knock-backs. I think my Dad is proud although I think he is a little bemused to have a daughter who has written a book with SEX in the title!

How did you feel leading up to your publication day?
My books were actually published overseas before in the UK so it was very weird. I didn't really know what to do. I ended up travelling to Italy to see my book in a shop to check it was really happening which was very exciting. The bookseller thought I was an idiot though as I insisted I had written this book in Italian when clearly I could not speak the language!

Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?
I love Lionel Shriver because I think she gets in her characters heads like no-one else. I have really enjoyed Gillian Flynn's books as she has great plots and very unexpected twists and turns. The last book I read was by Angela Jackson and is called The Emergence of Judy Taylor. She captures brilliantly the terrifying battle many face quietly in their own heads of the choice between mundane and safe or brave but potentially catastrophic. 

Finally...what are you working on right now?
My sanity as I herd two young kids through the  summer holidays. Come September I will be back into full time work on NO-ONE EVR HAS SEX AFTER A BABY and wishing my kids were not at school but there to harass and entertain me.

You can read both of Tracy's novels now, you can also follow her on twitter. Review of Single Woman Seeks Revenge coming up on the blog very soon, keep your eyes peeled! 

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Review! A Good Girl Comes Undone by Polly Williams

She's on a roll. A glamorous job at a glossy magazine. A home of her own. A cute live-in boyfriend. Annie Rafferty has worked damn hard for all of it. If demands are made, she delivers. If people need her, she's there. And if she suspects something is missing? Well, she ignores it. 
But cracks start to appear. Her boyfriend quits his job and leaves Annie paying the bills. Work descends into a handbags-at-dawn struggle for survival, and there's a new exec in the office - rude, unreconstructed, but strangely attractive - questioning exactly what she's trying to prove. 
As Annie discovers her true desires, her meticulously planned life begins to unravel and darker, unexpected forces pull things in a shocking new direction...

Review: this was a classic chick-lit story about a young woman on a journey of self-discovery with some fabulous mis-haps and friendship along the way, and of course a love interest or two. It was an easy read and very predictable but neither of these things made it any less enjoyable. There were plentry of twists and turns in the story to keep the reader guessing all the way through as to what was going to happen. There was also the wonderful aspect of having several stories going on at once, adding more depth to this novel and making it even more enjoyable. I really enjoyed the story about Annie's challenges at work, and her challenges within her love-life. I found the story involving the challenges within her family rather Difficult and therefore not as enjoyable, even bringing me to tears at one point, but nevertheless adding another dimension to this well-written tale.

I liked Annie as a character initially although I did loose some respect for her because of her inability to say no and to ignore things when things were going wrong. She certainly redeems herself towards to end of this novel and I am aching to find out what has become of her. I strongly disliked Nick from the start if the novel but this shows how well written he was, that I found myself shouting at him sometimes because of his actions or words. I didn't like many members of Annie's family either, and I found new character Don fairly hard to take too. The interactions that Annie had with some of her work colleagues were seriously funny and had me laughing out loud, I think this particular part of the storyline was my favourite. 

There are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader occupied and although the majority of the novel is set in London, Annie travels to New York, her parents move from the Cotswolds to Brighton and so there are plenty of 'scene changes' too, all of which are well-described, so much so that I wanted, myself, to sink down into Annie's new sofa when it was delivered. This would make the perfect addition to your beach bag, and is another great novel from this wonderful author. An easy read but with plenty to keep your attention, this is definitely a book which I would have loved to have a sequel to, I definitely need to know what happens next...

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Things That Make my Life as aReader/BloggerEasier...

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over there at The Broke and the Bookish. I'd love to share my lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

I love the way these lists make me think about my reading habits and now my blogging habits. What things really DO make my life as a blogger easier...?

1. This is definitely top of the list-other bloggers. They were so helpful when I was setting up my blog and they are helpful now in inviting me to blogger events, alerting me to new books and new authors and most-importantly, motivating me. If I'm finding it difficult to read or post, they are always there with words of support-fabulous.

2. The authors. All the authors I've met or communicated with have been so lovely and also very supportive. They are lovely about my posts and so really motivate me to blog and post more!

3. My iPad, I use the app to compose my posts and then do the twiddly bits on a computer. It's much easier to get pictures and other content into the blog, I can take pictures with the iPad and then upload them straight away, it's also been handy when I've been away over this summer, I can blog on the go!

4. Twitter. Very helpful for getting my blog posts out there and also for contacting publicists, publishers and authors.

5. Starbucks. I love to read and I love to read with a cup of coffee. If. I'm sitting at home I'm much more likely to get distracted by cleaning or pets or even just going to bed. I can sit in Starbucks with my giant mug of coffee and really concentrate on the books I'm reading.

6. Audiobooks. I get one audiobook a month and this month, because I've been travelling in the car a lot, I've got a couple out of the library as well. This means that time which would normally be non-reading time because I'm driving or cooking or cleaning, can also be reading time and therefore another blog post for me!

7. These top ten Tuesday topics. I love composing my top tens each week and it means that one day a week I have something consistent and accounted for!

8. Netgalley. Some of these things are sounding very technical aren't they? Netgalley means that I can get my hands on the latest releases without faaaaaar to much damage to my wallet. I work hard but my pennies don't stretch far enough to be able to get alllll the new releases. Netgalley also means I can get my hands on some of them ready for publication day, making my posts entirely relevant and up to date!

9. My kindle. My kindle means that I can have a full bounty of books with me at all times. I also really like the highlight function on the kindle. This means that if there are certain parts I know I'm going to want to talk about, I can mark them on the kindle without having to turn down any pages or damage the book in any way!

10. The publishers. I've been to some fabulous events held for bloggers at various publishing houses. These have allowed me to find out about new authors, new books and very often allowed me to meet authors. All these things give me more material for my blog and make the blogging even more enjoyable.

There you have it, a bit of insight into the way that I blog as well as the books that I use and the processes that I go through. I wonder if any of the things are the same as on your list? Or if you think there is anything that I've missed? Let me know!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Review: The Silver Chain by Primula Bond

Bound by passion, she was powerless to resist.

One dark evening in London, photographer Serena Folkes is indulging her impulsive side with a night-time shoot. But someone is watching her – mysterious entrepreneur Gustav Levi. Serena doesn’t know it yet, but this handsome stranger will change her life forever…

Serena is fascinated by Gustav, the enigmatic owner of the Levi Gallery, and she soon feels an irresistible pull of attraction. The interest is mutual, and Gustav promises to launch Serena’s photographic career at his gallery, but only if Serena agrees to become his exclusive companion.

To mark their agreement, Gustav gives Serena a bracelet to wear at all times. Attached to it is a silver chain of which he is the keeper. With the chain Gustav controls Serena physically and symbolically – a sign that she is under his power.

As their passionate relationship intensifies, Gustav’s hold on the silver chain grows stronger. But will Gustav’s dark past tear them apart?

Review: I'd not read any erotica for a while so I was very much looking forward to starting this one. It was nice to know that it as a part of a trilogy, that this was going to be the foundations for something more. I was worried that it would be the same generic formula as those others who have followed the fifty shade phenomenon but this was something quite different. Definitely a slow burner. I felt the start was pretty slow to get going and this meant I didn't get into it as quickly as I had hoped, but when I look at the book as a whole,  I realise that this was all part of this slow burn, that it was a lot of build up, plenty of foreplay before the main action took place.

Serena was quite a different character for me. I loved her profession as a photographer and thought that having her show as a sort of lynchpin in the book was a good asset to the storyline. I also like the fact that she wasn't entirely inexperience. She had had a boyfriend before and had moved herself to London for her art, this meant that she wasn't being totally shown the world by Gustav, the male lead. I thought that Gustav was interesting too. It was slightly predictable that he should have some sort of dark secrets in his closet, but this didn't take away from any of the enjoyment of the book.

The sex was definitely not the main thing in this story, there was a slight bondage/s&m quality to it, but it wasn't all riding crops and whips and indeed there was one scene in particular where the two of them completely rejected the leather and whips in favour of rolling around on the bed together. I really liked the ending of this book. I think ending on a bit of a cliffhanger in terms of the storyline worked really well, and showed that this novel wasn't just about the sex scenes, there was a good a balance or erotica, romance and action.

My only complaint with the story was the amount that serenade bit her lip,nit really started to grate on me, I think it is something that is slightly overused in erotic fiction, and whenever a character does it in a book, I have to do it too, even though I would never otherwise do it. If you are a fan of erotic fiction this is definitely one you should read. It is a nice easy read and the sex scenes will definitely ease you in gently if this is not a genre you would usually pick up. I enjoyed the story, I love the cover and I definitely can't wait to find out what happens next...

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Letterbox Love #5

Letterbox Love #5

Welcome to Letterbox Love, this is a UK meme, hosted by the lovely Lynsey at Narratively Speaking and inspired by The Story Siren's In My Mailbox. This post is a means by which to highlight the books we get in the post and beyond, and especially to bring attention to those books which may be sat on our shelves for a little while yet that we love all the same.

Now I've not actually received any books this week, possibly because I've been away for two weeks now. However, I have found some seriously good bargains and downloaded some books for NetGalley and I am dying to tell you about them all so, here goes...

From NetGalley I have downloaded Mutton by India Knight which I have been thinking about buying the shops and so was very pleased to see it sitting there for review. I also got Since You've been Gone by Anouska Knight which looks fabulous and am waiting for time to read it all at once so may take me a couple of weeks to get to this one.

I was lucky enough to receive an e-copy of by Jenny Hale. This is released in October so you can look forward to a review of that in the autumn! 

Now bought books... I downloaded Keeping Her by Cora Carmack

Love Under Different Skies by Nick Spalding

And This Book Will Save Your Life by AM Holmes

I've also been very naughty in terms if buying books, I'll have to transport them all home as well. Here is my book haul...

The antenatal Group by Amy Bratley
Wish You were Here by Mike Gayle
Tell Me Something by Adele Parks
Will you Still Love me Tomorrow? By Claudia Carroll
Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O'Porter
The Night Rainbow by Claire King
Three Little Words by Jessica Thompson
The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman

I also found a special edition of One Day by David Nicolls, one of my all time favourite books ever, very excited (this was still amongst my bargains)

Isn't it gorgeous?!

And finally a signed edition of Dixie O'Day In The Fast Lane by Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy.

I've heard lots of good things about this one so I'm looking forward to having a lovely read and maybe taking it into school to share with the kids!

I know I've been bad but it's so so good right?

I'd love to hear about the books you've bought or received this week too, have a great week!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Review: After The Party by Lisa Jewell

It's eleven years since Jem Catterick and Ralph McLeary first got together. They thought it would be for ever, that they'd found their happy ending. As everyone agreed, they were the perfect couple.

Then two became four, a flat became a house. Romantic nights out became sleepless nights in. And they soon found that life wasn't quite so simple any more. But through it all Jem and Ralph still loved each other, of course they did.

Now the unimaginable has happened. Two people who were so right together are starting to drift apart. And in the chaos of family life, Ralph feels more and more as if he's standing on the sidelines, and Jem that she's losing herself. Something has to change. As they try to find a way back to each other, back to what they once had, they both become momentarily distracted - but maybe it's not too late to recapture happily ever after ...

Review: wow this novel really took it out of me. The tension, the emotion and the feelings of the characters are at the forefront during the entirety of this novel and it is so well written that you feel each and every sigh, laugh and tear with each of the characters. I am a massive fan of Ralph's party so I don't know why it has taken me so long to read the follow up novels, but I am so pleased that I did!

The characters are wonderfully similar to how they were in the first novel, they both still have a really strong voice thought the story and so from that point of view it is like returning home to old friends, however that would be boring if they were ENTIRELY the same. These characters have grown and evolved, they have had children and they are losing Ralph and Jem and simply becoming mum and dad and this is part of the problem throughout the whole of this novel-they need to find themselves again!

The things that this couple have gone through are realistic and believable and yet I simply don't know how they coped. In terms of the plot, it is beautifully mapped. They go through miscarriages, astilbe adultery, Ralph having issues with work, Jem having issues with work, questions over whether they should get married or not. It is one drama after another-it's fabulous. We hear a lot more of jems sister Miranda in this novel than in the previous one, and of course smith is back too. The big admission that I have to make, however, is that I really didn't like Ralph is this book! I LOVED him in the first novel, but in this one, really disliked him, thought he had turned into a lazy man who was letting his family life ass him by. I also really disliked Scarlet, their daughter. I thought she seemed spoilt and just took away from the enjoyment of the story a bit for me.

The fact that I had the dislike of these characters though and found the storyline so stressful was because it was so well written. Lisa Jewell really does have a way of writing drama to make it seem so real that it literally jumps off the page and pulls you in. This is not a novel to read if you are looking for a restful Sunday afternoon affair. You need to invest in this novel, but it is well worth the investment! This is Jewell at her best and if you are a fan of hers, you have got to read this one. If you haven't already read Ralph's Party then read that first because I think you have to know the characters from that novel before picking up this epic read!

You can get your copy of after the party by clicking here...

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Review! Longbourn by Jo Baker

The servants at Longbourn estate--only glancingly mentioned in Jane Austen's classic--take center stage in Jo Baker's lively, cunning new novel. Here are the Bennets as we have never known them: seen through the eyes of those scrubbing the floors, cooking the meals, emptying the chamber pots. Our heroine is Sarah, an orphaned housemaid beginning to chafe against the boundaries of her class. When the militia marches into town, a new footman arrives under mysterious circumstances, and Sarah finds herself the object of the attentions of an ambitious young former slave working at neighboring Netherfield Hall, the carefully choreographed world downstairs at Longbourn threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, up-ended. From the stern but soft-hearted housekeeper to the starry-eyed kitchen maid, these new characters come vividly to life in this already beloved world. Jo Baker shows us what Jane Austen wouldn't in a captivating, wonderfully evocative, moving work of fiction.

Review: wow! What a fabulous retelling! When I first heard about this book I thought it was a wonderful concept and knew that I would have to read it. Now I sometimes struggle with the language and lengthily descriptions in some of Austen's novels and was worried that I might struggle with this one but it was such an easy and compelling read, I had no problems whatsoever. The language, in fact was one of my favourite parts. The narration was in easy to follow English but the thing the servants said to on another and indeed the other characters in the novel, the Bennets, the Bingley folk were all as they would have been phrased at that time and I thought it gave a really good a balance! Some of the things Mrs Bennet or Mrs Hill said had me laughing out loud!

The characters in this novel were fabulous, such a good idea to feature these hard working and yet 

unseen characters from Pride and Prejudice! Sarah is the main character really and like a lot of books that I read, she is a young women who is hard working and wants good things for herself and so is prepared to work for them. She gets herself into a couple of romantic entanglements along the way, readers will be pleased to hear, and she really goes for the things she wants in life, even if it means things are going to be difficult for her. The relationship she has with Mrs Hill (a wonderfully formidable character) is a mother/daughter type and the relationship she has with the younger maid Polly is also like that only in this case, Sarah is the mother figure. 

She also has a good relationship with the two older Bennet girls which means that she does get to travel in this novel. This is not just a story about the everyday comings and goings in the Bennet household, there is a lot more that goes on below stairs than we realise. You get such a good feel for the pain the servants must have been in constantly tramping up and down the stairs, and the description of the aches and pain, and the chilblains are so realistic, you really get to feel their pain.

You learn more about the landscape surrounding Longbourn, the journeys to London, to Netherfield and eventually, of course, to Pemberley.  The novel is divided into three significant parts, the first two parts are mainly based at Longbourn, with a short journey into London, but the final part focuses slightly more on the story of the footman and how he came to be. I didn't find this part quite as enjoyable as the previous two sections, but the very end of this section is where Sarah goes to Pemberley with Elizabeth and this was really very enjoyable so made up for the rest of this part. It was an interesting choice to divide the book into parts like this but I think it really works, and each section is definitely separate from the last!

Overall this book really lived up to my expectations, exceeded them even. I found it a real page turner, the language is beautiful, the characters engaging and what a gorgeous cover too! I think that most readers will really enjoy this book, it does help to know the story of Pride and Prejudice but I don't think it is essential and you certainly don't have to be overly familiar with Austen and her work in order to fully enjoy this wonderful novel! A must buy!

You can order your copy of Longbourn by clicking on the cover picture!